Heroes has jumped the shark, officially! There are some who say the show jumped a few seasons ago, but if anyone needs a definitive episode it would be this week's. So many downright ridiculous ideas and retreading of plots caused me to laugh more than a few times. That doesn't mean the episode wasn't entertaining, I never felt like I wasted my time, but it seems that the writers have finally run out of steam.
Sylar, no longer Nathan, is being interrogated by a cop (Ernie Hudson) about murdering his mother, but a breakout leads the killer right into the hands of the Sullivan Brothers Carnival. Claire starts to have suspicions that Gretchen isn't exactly as she appears. Peter attempts to connect with his mother and when that fails starts to develop a fledgling romance with Emma. Emma herself is dealing with her new power, and tries to distance herself from a mysterious event she feels guilty about. Samuel tries to figure out who will be joining the carnival, and has a secret weapon that might bring someone forward.
Surprisingly Claire comes out with another good storyline, the strongest and most focused of the episode. Sure her story is pretty cliche and girly, but it's nice to see Claire truly cut loose and embrace her young adulthood. I'd say this is probably the most we've ever seen of Claire being normal and focused on education in four seasons. Her attempts at being normal while speed-dating with sorority girls was funny as she never really felt completely at ease. Even subtle things like her body language showed she didn't truly belong in the sorority atmosphere which proves that Claire would never be like the other girls, ability or no ability. Props to Hayden Panettiere for the strong performance this episode. She turned what could have been a stupid storyline into something with actual depth. Madeline Zima is also fun as possible psychopath Gretchen. Yes we learn Gretchen isn't psycho, but Zima is more than able to find a balance with her mannerisms that make you question her sincerity. This is one of the few episodes where I rewatched her scenes after finding out her secret and realizing the truth is present all along. Samuel and the Carnival was another interesting story and it's becoming extremely annoying how little story time is devoted to them. We saw Samuel's frustration at Lydia for not being able to reveal the new member of the carnival, yet Sylar's arrival showed an important aspect we haven't learned: the carnival can only be seen by those with abilities. This throws open the door on thousands of questions like what does a new family member do in the group, why is one needed so desperately now, who truly controls the tattooing power? So many questions and quite frankly it'd be worth it drop Emma's story and just devote all the time to the carnival as it's fascinating.
I mentioned this episode marked the jump the shark moment because of how cliche everything became. Let's start with the requisite girl on girl kiss, which apparently now symbolizes a show trying to grab ratings. Sure it proved that Gretchen wasn't crazy, but it looked so desperate, especially as it soon become the main focal point of all the previews for this week. Gretchen being painted as a psycho was incredibly cliche and boring and while I appreciate the writers not going that route, having this Becky girl as the invisible murderer/Gretchen saboteur seemed to show the writers had nothing left to throw in and her connection to the carnival seemed so strange and out of place. Peter and Emma is cute, but do we really need it? I keep having flashbacks of all those past girlfriends of Peter, is Emma a keeper? And what's this mysterious death she's hiding from? We seem to have a few too many characters hiding things this season, do we need to introduce another new character with a secret. Look back at Maya and Alejandro to see how well that worked out. Ernie Hudson was so over the top I think he couldn't see the bottom. Don't get me wrong, Hudson's a great actor but here he was channeling Jack Nicholson, Joker levels of campiness. And to get to the plot retreads. Sylar and the memory loss...I have the sneaking suspicion that happened before? And Nathan, dead for good? Are we sticking with that and if so, wow thanks for letting us say good bye.
Overall I did enjoy Claire and the Carnival but the ridiculous plot twists and the retreads just seemed like bad writing. The show has jumped and really all that's left is to enjoy the ride without thinking too hard. It's awful to write that about a show that started out as so unique and creative, but even the good die young apparently. This week gets a 3.5/5 purely because Claire entertained me and that's a feat.